The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will equip the majority of its combat companies by the end of this year with small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed for the consumer and commercial markets, a senior military source has told Jane's.
"We are going with the most highly sold unmanned aerial systems, those produced by DJI," the source said. "We are buying the Mavic, their flagship product, and for more professional units we are buying the Matrice , which has better abilities, more time in the air, other kinds of cameras," the source said.
Most of the companies that will receive the systems will be infantry, although other types of ground forces units will receive them as well, the source added.
The Mavic only has a day camera, but it weighs just 743 g, folds up to make it highly portable, and can fly for up to 27 minutes. The more expensive and larger Matrice 100 quadcopter can be fitted with different payloads such as an infrared camera or an additional battery to extend its flight time to up to 40 minutes.
The source said the acquisition of the DJI quadcopters is a temporary measure until a small military UAV called the Tzur becomes available. Industry sources have told Jane's that the Tzur project has not as yet resulted in a contract being signed with a manufacturer.
The IDF source said the acquisition of commercial UAVs would provide clear operational advantages for forces in the field. "They will have the ability to get a high-quality picture from the air, as well as images from opposite angles," he stated. "The enemy was used to hiding behind a wall or a home. Suddenly, it is exposed from 360°."
"In the past, only planes and drones that are expensive and complicated to operate could provide images to the company level.
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